Soothing In Dark Places
Looking for Soothing in All the Wrong Places
When we are raised in an environment deficient in nurturance and soothing, we unconsciously adopt defense mechanisms to help us cope with emotional pain. These mechanisms represent the lengths we go to in order to push our painful memories out of awareness. You may notice that you have trouble remembering painful childhood events (this is an act of repression). Perhaps when youâre distressed, you have a long-standing pattern of disconnecting from yourself and going numb (dissociation). Or maybe you distract yourself from the pain you feel by minimizing it (rationalization or intellectualization): âIâm sure they did the best they could, given the situation.â âHasnât everyone had challenges?â âItâs the past; Iâm over it.â
When we havenât internalized a kind, soothing voice, we continue to try to get our need for soothing met from the outside. As adolescents and young adults, we may still try to get soothing from our original caregivers, especially if they were able to soothe us some of the time. This approach generally leads to frustration and disappointment as caregivers reopen old wounds by failing once again to provide consistent, reliable comfort.
As adults, we may attempt to get our need for soothing met by those closest to us â our spouses, partners, close friends, mentors, and even our children. This often places too much burden on others. Some of us compensate for our unmet soothing needs and lack of self-soothing skills by becoming superindependent â unconsciously disowning these needs, denying we have any need for soothing. Denying our need for soothing does not, however, get rid of it, and we may attempt to overcontrol our lives so as to minimize uncertainty and discomfort. One way or the other, we end up expecting too much from others or too much from ourselves. And we fail to learn the important skill of self-soothing.
Self-Soothing Begins Begins with an Inner Conversation
Self-soothing is the way we restore balance when weâre upset or distressed, and we do it on an as-needed basis. We begin with an Inner Conversation and identify the emotions weâre experiencing and what we need. Our Inner Nurturer is our source for soothing, and she validates our emotions and uses soothing words and a soothing tone to provide calm, comfort, and reassurance.
When we are new to the process of having Inner Conversations, we can easily slip back to our old habitual patterns for reducing pain. We quickly grab something to eat or drink, turn on the television, surf the web, or find some other distraction.
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